There’s a real possibility that the federal prohibition of cannabis could end this year
Cannabis prohibition has existed in one form or another since the early 20th century. But now with the majority of US states in conflict with federal law, there’s growing optimism that we are reaching a tipping point that will lead to the end of cannabis prohibition at a federal level.
Furthermore, with a number of senators planning to address the situation in the now democrat controlled congress, hopes of a nationwide cannabis legalization bill materializing this year are high. So, what are the chances of cannabis becoming federally legal in 2021?
State Cannabis Legalization So Far
California’s Proposition 215 started the ball rolling back in 1996. Since then a majority of states have followed California’s lead by legalizing medical marijuana, and 14 have also legalized recreational cannabis. A slew of these states approved ballot measures at the end of 2020, and with New York, Connecticut, and New Mexico all expected to follow suit this year, pressure is building on the federal government to change tact. But, can this cavalcade of state efforts really topple the federal prohibition of cannabis?
Running Out of States
Despite continuing local wins for legal cannabis, we’re nearing the end of the road of what can be achieved at state level. So far, the states which have legalized have done so by public ballot measures, but unfortunately we are running out of states where that is an option. Additionally, as far as the US Supreme Court is concerned, federal law still supersedes state legislature, which means no matter how many individual states legalize, cannabis will remain illegal countrywide until change comes from the top of the US government.
Senators Take Up the Fight
While the states can’t change federal law, their efforts have put cannabis legalization firmly on the national agenda, and now all eyes turn to congress where democrat senators Chuck Schumer (NY), Ron Wyden (OR), and Cory Booker (NJ) are spearheading efforts to produce a national cannabis bill. Excitingly, the trio meet with cannabis activists and industry players in February, and a draft proposal is expected to be put forward in the coming months.
A Tipping Point?
With a new president, and a democrat controlled government favoring legalizing cannabis, there is reason to be hopeful. It’s no secret that cannabis stocks soared off the back of the 2020 election results. Big cannabis at least is clearly anticipating a shift in lawmaking. However, owing to the glacial pace of the legislature and the highly partisan nature of US political discourse, it remains to be seen whether a meaningful bill will appear this year. It does seem a little optimistic, but we are at least at the end game with the final hurdle in sight, and that really is something to be excited about.